Inside Truro: Continued loss of Truro's tree sculptures changing town landscape

Published on May 4, 2014

It seems like all too often these days we hear about another Truro tree sculpture being removed due to decay.

Many of the streets in Truro, specifically the downtown area, were once lined with beautiful, large, elm trees that had been around for more than a hundred years.

Unfortunately, Dutch elm disease and harsh urban conditions did a number on many of these trees and they began to disappear.

In 1999, at the encouragement of Don Cameron, Truro Tree Committee chairman, the council of the day began the tree sculpture project as a way to temporarily fill the void left by the disappearance of these trees. The Town of Antigonish had developed a similar initiative and council thought it was a great idea and would also help promote Truro’s history and heritage.

It took approximately six years for the three sculptors to complete the 43 sculptures. The town paid for the first sculpture, Sir Adams Archibald, which was located at the corner of Prince and Young streets. From there, community groups, individuals and business sponsors funded more sculptures.

But as the years have passed, the tree sculptures continue to decay, often from pre-existing internal decay within the century old trunks; and let’s not forget that these sculptures were also untreated wood exposed to the elements 365 days of the year.

I think we need to remember that these sculptures were not meant to be, or expected to be, permanent. Of the 43 sculptures that were originally featured throughout town, only 15 remain. The town continues to perform maintenance on the remaining sculptures, but there is only so much we can do.

There have also been instances of random vandalism towards the sculptures during the years, such as knocking them over, removing pieces, breaking them or spray painting them, which is very unfortunate.

One of the recent sculptures to be removed was the Vera Clyke sculpture on the corner of Robie and Ford streets. It was damaged and as the town investigated repair options, it was discovered that the wood within was too decayed to be repaired. The base has been left in place and any individuals, businesses or community groups who would like to construct a replacement memorial are more than welcome to approach the town about beginning that process.


Amanda Smees is the executive assistant and communications officer for the Town of Truro.